Guru night is a devotional event that takes place annually at summer’s end. Ananda Portland has the tradition of having the festivities outside, and despite our reputation for rain, there has been only one Guru Night that had to be moved due to the weather.
It is a night of pilgrimage; a rare opportunity to visit holy shrines dedicated to each of the five avatars in the Ananda lineage. We begin early in the evening, when the August sun is still bright and summer warm. By the end of our journey, the moon has replaced the sun and the air is cool in the darkness.
The devotion of the attendees and the presence of the masters are palpable by evening’s end, and everyone goes home with a heart full of gratitude for the blessings received. I enjoy the event for the shared devotion, but I’m also deeply impressed with the shared service and community effort that goes into making it all happen.
We set up in the community green space, which has a fenced-in pool at the center. The shrines are moved each year, and this year we tried a new twist – putting Yogananda’s shrine inside the pool area. A team of 2-3 people put together each altar, creatively dealing with the bumpy ground and unpredictable wind. Lights were strung along through the orchard, to make an astral corridor for the pilgrims.
A team of sound engineers worked with miles of cable, heavy speakers and microphones for the chanters and presenters. The chanters had the job of carrying the music throughout the evening; they had to carry their harmoniums as well. Everyone carried their chair when traveling from one shrine to the next, and some chose to bring blankets and sit on the ground. We started with Jesus Christ and moved through the lineage to Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and Paramhansa Yogananda.
In addition to all those who set up on the physical level, there were readers and speakers at each shrine. They each chose what to talk about and what to share from the wealth of material we have available through Swami Kriyananda. It was great fun to hear what each had to say and what they chose to share of their discipleship and experience on this path.
At each shrine we had an opportunity to make an offering (we had flower petals for Christ, rice for Lahiri, and candles for Yogananda) or receive a blessed object (there were stones at Babaji and grapes at Sri Yukteswar).
The Yogananda altar at the pool was the time of deepest vibration and beauty. The lights were strung around the pool fence and the multiple candles on the altar made a heavenly show. We circled the pool and offered our devotion at the altar, then floated votives in the pool, creating an effect that felt as if we were all part of the altar to our guru. The silence was sweet with peace and no one wanted to leave.
Still more energy was lovingly offered when it came time for clean up. Everyone glowed in the joy of the night and shared the undercurrent of divine love that constantly flows through the avatars into our hearts and lives. Come to Portland and join us next year – we will be here with the masters.
In divine friendship,